Once a week I try to plan a crock pot dinner for our family. And let me tell you, that is the night I always look forward to. Who doesn’t? You get to walk in to a delicious smelling house, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relax because dinner is done.
I have been using and recommending crock pot recipes for years now, and hadn’t given much thought to the history of them until today. So, after a very quick search on Google, I found this article from The Huffington Post: A Brief History of the Crock Pot.
I found it interesting that it took over 30 years from when the original slow cooker was patented, to when it became a regular household item. It was developed in 1936 to cook a bean based stew. The inventor, Irving Naxon, eventually sold his design to Rival Manufacturing in 1970 and they re-branded the item to become the Crock Pot.
The Crock Pot was marketed to…you guessed it…working mothers so they could prepare the food in the morning and have dinner ready and waiting when they got home. Things haven’t changed.
Working mother or not, I think we can all agree it is nice to have your dinner ready and waiting at the end of a long day. I recently came across a wonderful Cajun Chicken Alfredo – Slow Cooker recipe that I made for my family this week. It was a huge hit. Although the Country Pasta needs to be prepared separately, it was still a simple dinner that allowed us to maximize our time together that evening.
I hope you enjoy the history and this slow cooker recipe. When you do, remember to grab a glass of wine and say a toast of thanks to Mr. Naxon for making your relaxing dinner night possible.
And then again, maybe stress is the first thing that comes to mind as you begin thinking about the big day. After all, if you are hosting, there are so many details to keep straight.
Growing up in our house (and even now), we tend to miss the dinner time by at least one hour each year. My mom, who is an amazing cook, seems to always add more and more to the menu, thus putting herself behind a bit. Don’t get me wrong, we all try to plan and pitch in on the family meal, but she usually just takes things in her own hands and assigns us the easy tasks like corn and cranberries. And although we like to tease her relentlessly about her timing, I have to admit, in the end, it’s always worth the wait!
My mom laughs at our teasing now, probably because she is an old hat at this, but if you’re new to hosting, or even just want to try to make things a little easier on yourself, there are plenty of online resources you can turn to. We have compiled a list of some we are going to try this year, including how to prepare a big meal, what family friendly movies to put in the queue, or even a checklist in hopes of keeping stomachs full and faces smiling.
We hope these are helpful, and we wish you a relaxing and memorable time with your family. Don’t worry, even with your completely organized event, they will certainly find other things to tease you about. That’s all part of the fun!
It is hard to believe we are about to finish our 26th year of business here at Country Pasta. I was a mere 14 years old when my parents started making their homemade pasta. Yes, I realize you can do the math and figure out how old I am now, but doesn’t that just add significance to the story? I have spent the last 26 years of my life and career weaving in and out of being involved in the family business. I feel very fortunate to have grown up with the opportunity to have these types of experiences. Meeting with large company buyers at the age of 19 is not always something people get the chance to do. And I still recall my very first solo sales meeting with one of our biggest customers almost 10 years ago. It was nerve racking and exhilarating at the same time.
This company is as grassroots as they come. For example, the very first logo they did was developed by their friend who owned the local print shop in town. The business did very well with that logo, growing distribution quite largely in the first 13 years of business. At the time, being a young ad exec, I thought we needed a fresh look and convinced my parents we needed to do an update. So began the process of introducing Country Pasta 2.0.
So in 2003 we focused on cleaning up some of the many elements that were included in the first rendition, and made the colors a bit bolder. We were very pleased with this logo, and it had a good thirteen year run until earlier this year we decided once again to do another update.
We are very excited to be launching our new logo over the course of the coming months! For this version we focused on giving the logo a more earthy/homegrown feel to it by adjusting the colors and updating the fonts a bit. Of course we wanted to keep the wheat stalks, but we updated them to a more natural looking version. We feel this look better represents the natural, high quality pasta that we provide you each and every day.
In addition to updating the logo, we also decided to do a more comprehensive packaging change. And boy did we have fun with this! We worked with another great Montana company, The Wendt Agency, to help with these updates. Their team went above and beyond by showing us five great new looks. As you’ll see, the one we landed on includes a rustic wood look that we thought complemented the logo very well, and certainly triggered the wholesomeness and old fashioned elements that represent our pasta.
We included our entire team, as well as extended family members, in this whole process. We had a lot of fun at meetings discussing the intricacies of the different designs and what we liked or didn’t like. Overall, it was a very fun process and we are excited to be sharing our new design with you.
We hope you will like it as much as we do!
And of course since we were going to be launching new packaging, we had to do a website update as well. We look forward to continuing to share recipe ideas, stories from the factory, and other fun stuff with you through this outlet.
Please be sure to check out our bold new site at countrypasta.com.
As 2016 is coming to an end and we begin looking ahead to our 27th year of business, we are filled with optimism and fresh energy. We hope you are, as well!
Here’s to change!
It’s that bittersweet time of year again….back-to-school time! On one hand, it is nice to be getting the kids and ourselves back in a routine. But on the other hand, it’s sad to see another summer come and go. We’ll miss the cool crisp mornings followed by warm carefree days, evenings outdoors, and of course barbecuing.
And while we’ve all enjoyed grilled burgers, veggies and kabobs, there’s also a part of us that starts to yearn for comfort foods this time of year. Soups, casseroles, roasts, and of course using the crock pot for easy, ready-to-eat meals at the end of long days.
Growing up, one of the things I remember about family meals is that my mom would be able to turn last night’s dinner into a whole new concoction for us for the next meal. It was incredible what she would come up with. We’d barely even know that it was the previous night’s pork chops we were eating.
One of my current favorites is having roast one night, then the next night mixing all of the leftover ingredients and gravy together and topping some Country Pasta. This hits two of my favorite cooking techniques – using the crock pot, and repurposing our meals. Can you see a theme to my cooking – it needs to be quick!
To help get you thinking about some repurposed meal ideas of your own, take a look at this list of 65 ideas for leftovers. http://greatist.com/health/leftovers-meals-healthy-recipes
We hope you do some experimenting with your food this winter. Being creative will help to get us through until these long summer days arrive once again.
Enjoy in comfort,
This week, for our 13th Act of Kindness, we gave away over 360 bags of Country Pasta to visitors of Glacier National Park. One of the things we love about where we live is our proximity to Glacier Park, so it seemed only fitting to include the Park in our Acts of Kindness somehow. We chose August 25th because the National Parks were celebrating their 100th Birthday, and Glacier specifically celebrated 99 years as an official National Park.
To say we had a good time would be an understatement. We met folks from at least 30 states and 8 different countries! We were warmly welcomed by the Park staff. We enjoyed ice cream. One of us went swimming. Two of us juggled pasta. We shared our own National Park stories. One of us ran into a server they had met while vacationing in the Virgin Islands! We met new friends. We had a picnic lunch. We had many laughs. And through all of this, we still get to call this “work.”
Throughout this year I continue to feel deep appreciation for the many customers we have who make this all possible. This year and our 25 Acts of Kindness are our way of giving back to each of you. We thank you, and we look forward to continuing to share our appreciation.
C. Warner Smith in the Kitchen
I grew up in a pretty traditional household, where my Mother and paternal Grandmother (who lived with us) did most of the cooking. Breakfasts would often find hot or cold cereal served, lunch sacks filled with PB&J’s and a piece of fruit, and for dinner our plates were filled with a balanced meal. However, Thursday nights were spaghetti nights. The menu consisted of San Giorgio #11 (now called Capellini) topped with my mother’s grandmother’s gravy (aka red sauce) and meatballs.
My father enjoyed this meal – often having seconds if available. But it wasn’t until many years later that I learned how much my Dad really loved pasta and cooking. One day I walked into the kitchen to find him working diligently on something in a big stock pot on the stove. It smelled divine…and the smile on his face was as big as the universe. I tried to mask my surprise that he was cooking and asked, “Dad, what are you making?” Truth be told, I really wanted to say, “Dad, what are you doing?” He turned to me and said “Punk, I am making Chicken Cacciatore.” That pot cooked for hours with my Dad lovingly stirring it throughout the day. And just when I thought his smile could not get any bigger, he dished the deliciousness over the San Giorgio #11 and just beamed.
At 88 years old, it is harder for my Dad to work all day in the kitchen making this dish, but on occasion he will. He shops for all the right ingredients, prepares them for the pot, and stirs with love every hour or so. That smile on his face is still priceless to me when he dishes it up in a big bowl.
Be sure to continue building your memories this year. Wishing a wonderful Father’s Day to all those secret chefs out there.